§ 29. Mr. Merchant
To ask the Chancellor of the Duchy of Lancaster in what ways efficiencies in public services are being achieved.
§ Mr. Merchant
In the light of the success of the "Competing for Quality" programme and the recent report by the Select Committee on the Treasury and Civil Service, which stressed that the pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness in the civil service was never-ending, does my right hon. Friend agree that the programme should continue and that it is in the interests of the taxpayer that it should do so because it not only ensures that maximum benefit is returned from finite resources but ensures high-quality services at the same time?
§ Mr. Hunt
Yes, we shall certainly do everything that we can to redouble our efforts under that very important programme, the strategic importance of which was recognised in the recent report of the Treasury and Civil Service Select Committee. The programme is producing savings of more than £400 million per year against an outlay of £23 million per year, which is very good value for money.
§ Mr. McNamara
Given that, when the civil service was allowed to make in-house tenders it was successful in work to the value of 73 per cent., will the Minister lift his blanket objection to in-house tenders for all available work so that the civil service can make in-house bids? Does his savings account include the EDS contract and the Aldermaston atomic weapons agency establishment? Finally, are the more than 10,000 posts which are yet to be lost additional to, or included in, the losses that were announced by the Chancellor in his Budget statement?
§ Mr. Hunt
My reply to the hon. Gentleman is that I am satisfied with the present policy. Obviously, in-house tenders should be encouraged where appropriate and they should compete on an equal basis. We shall endeavour to ensure that that occurs, but in certain cases that is not possible.
When we have put out to open tender, it has been an extremely successful operation. If the hon. Gentleman looks at the detailed analysis that we produced on the day that we announced the very impressive results of the "Competing for Quality" programme, he will find the answers to the questions that he has raised.